Decision details

Rural England Prosperity Fund investment plan addendum

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

To receive approval for the Rural England Prosperity Fund submission to Government. This will be submitted as an addendum to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund investment plan submitted on August 1st 2022. The deadline for submission of the addendum is November 30th 2022.

The Rural Fund supports the aims of the government’s Levelling Up White Paper and Future Farming Programme. It funds capital projects for small businesses and community infrastructure. This will help to improve productivity and strengthen the rural economy and rural communities.

The Rural Fund is integrated into the UKSPF which supports productivity and prosperity in places that need it most. It supports activities that specifically address the particular challenges rural areas face. It is complementary to funding used to support rural areas under the UKSPF.
To access our allocation of £1.1m we are asked in the addendum to set out measurable outcomes that reflect local needs and opportunities. These should inform the interventions that we wish to deliver.

Decisions:

Summary

 

The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder presented a report on the Rural England Prosperity Fund. He informed Members that by agreeing to the submission of the investment plan addendum, the Council could unlock £1.1 million of investment aimed at supporting rural businesses and communities within South Lakeland and Westmorland and Furness.

 

The proposals, if successful would be rolled out over the next two financial years and would act as a ‘top-up’ to the Council’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) allocation of £3.8 million. Eligible Local Authorities qualified for an allocation based on factors developed in line with the scheme’s objectives, which included the size of their rural populations. The report and background documents set out interventions relating to the two investment priorities (Supporting Rural Communities and Supporting Rural Communities), as well as defined outputs and outcomes against which success must be measured.

 

In response to a query relating to the impact of Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) and the distribution of the funding, the Operational Lead for Place and Environment informed Members that the rural top up applied to Eden and South Lakeland Districts only and that this would not change as a result of LGR. He added that funding would not be available until the next financial year and that the two District Council’s had aligned priorities as set out in the report with LGR in mind.

 

Concern was expressed over the limits of the fund, particularly regarding the restriction to only capital projects. It was felt that this may prevent smaller organisations or charities who needed a revenue boost from accessing the funds. The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder responded, noting that he shared the concern but the rules of the fund had been clearly defined.

 

Following a question on the role of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund’s role, the Operational Lead for Place and Environment noted that the agreed themes would help to develop a core of projects, which would then be scored by the Local Partnership Group.

 

In response to a query over consultation on the core projects to assess the benefit and use of projects to rural areas, the Operational Lead for Place and Environment informed Members that officers could share the membership of the Local Partnership Group who gave a view on the projects. He added that once the specific applications had been received, there would be a strict scoring process for each project.

 

Members raised a question regarding using the fund to support rural bus services, the Operational Lead for Place and Environment confirmed that this would not be classified as capital funding but added that there may be some applicable areas in the main UK Shared Prosperity fund.

 

Decision

 

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        the evidence base report and draft interventions list at Appendix 5 to the report be noted;

 

(2)        authority be delegated to the Director of Customer and Commercial Services in consultation with the Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder to finalise the Rural England Prosperity Fund investment plan addendum based on the evidence base report and draft interventions list ahead of the deadline for submission of 30 November 2022;

 

(3)        authority be delegated to the Director of Customer and Commercial Services in consultation with the Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder to approve any minor amendments to the addendum and the draft list of interventions that may arise following consideration of the selected interventions by officers and the Westmorland and Furness Shadow Authority;

 

(4)        subject to recommendations 2 and 3 (above) that authority be delegated to the Director of Customer and Commercial Services in consultation with the Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder to submit the investment plan to DEFRA by the 30 November 2022 deadline;

 

(5)        authority be delegated to the Director of Customer and Commercial Services in consultation with the Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder to agree the business case development process for delivery of the interventions selected in the Rural Fund addendum and associated projects; and

 

(6)        authority be delegated to the Director of Customer and Commercial Services, in consultation with the Section 151 Officer, Monitoring Officer and Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder,  to accept or enter into any agreement, conditions of any grant determination letter, memorandum of understanding or any other mechanism specified by Government to allow the Council to accept the funding for the Section 151 Officer to set up relevant budgets.

 

Reasons for Decision

 

The Rural England Prosperity Fund has wide reaching implications for the delivery of Council Plan priorities and will to some extent help deliver many of those priorities. Specifically:

 

Working across boundaries

·         working across the Bay to secure investment and high value jobs

·         attracting funding and delivering critical infrastructure

·         working with partners to deliver an effective economic response to the COVID crisis

·         promoting unique value propositions such as cultural, creative and marine industries

 

Delivering a balanced community

·         unlocking development sites and enabling local businesses to grow

·         understanding the needs of local businesses

·         encouraging graduate retention and the creation of high value jobs

·         using culture and the arts to support the unique offer of our towns and countryside

·         using our distinct environment to create opportunities for all

 

A fairer South Lakeland

·         Supporting people to adapt to changes in technology

·         Encouraging links between further and higher education, apprentices and businesses

·         Providing support, advice and affordable premises for new business start-ups

·         Protecting the vulnerable and helping people out of poverty

·         widen and improve the quality of broadband coverage

·         working with partners to widen access to low cost energy

 

Addressing the climate emergency

·         enhancing the district’s green infrastructure

·         promoting environmental technologies and the green economy

·         promoting local businesses and the circular economy

·         developing town centres which are attractive and accessible for living, working and leisure

·         promoting active transport including cycling and walking

·         enhancing the biodiversity of the district

 

Alternative Options

 

The alternative option would be to not submit an investment plan addendum, this would preclude SLDC and Westmorland & Furness Council from accessing the £1.1m allocation and prevent delivery of key projects and support for businesses within the district.

Report author: Sam Butcher

Publication date: 11/11/2022

Date of decision: 09/11/2022

Decided at meeting: 09/11/2022 - Cabinet

Accompanying Documents: